Rene Descartes Quotes (Author of Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy)
Descartes' Mind-Body Dualism
This entry concerns dualism in the philosophy of mind. In general, the idea is that, for some particular domain, there are two fundamental kinds or categories of things or principles. Dualism contrasts with monism, which is the theory that there is only one fundamental kind, category of thing or principle; and, rather less commonly, with pluralism, which is the view that there are many kinds or categories. In the philosophy of mind, dualism is the theory that the mental and the physical—or mind and body or mind and brain—are, in some sense, radically different kinds of thing. Discussion about dualism, therefore, tends to start from the assumption of the reality of the physical world, and then to consider arguments for why the mind cannot be treated as simply part of that world. The mind-body problem is the problem: what is the relationship between mind and body? Or alternatively: what is the relationship between mental properties and physical properties?
In natural philosophy, he can be credited with several specific achievements: co-framer of the sine law of refraction, developer of an important empirical account of the rainbow, and proposer of a naturalistic account of the formation of the earth and planets a precursor to the nebular hypothesis. More importantly, he offered a new vision of the natural world that continues to shape our thought today: a world of matter possessing a few fundamental properties and interacting according to a few universal laws. This natural world included an immaterial mind that, in human beings, was directly related to the brain; in this way, Descartes formulated the modern version of the mind—body problem. In metaphysics, he provided arguments for the existence of God, to show that the essence of matter is extension, and that the essence of mind is thought. Descartes claimed early on to possess a special method, which was variously exhibited in mathematics, natural philosophy, and metaphysics, and which, in the latter part of his life, included, or was supplemented by, a method of doubt.
Accordingly, a mode requires a substance to exist and not just the concurrence of God. Being sphere shaped is a mode of an extended substance. For example, a sphere requires an object extended in three dimensions in order to exist: an unextended sphere cannot be conceived without contradiction. But a substance can be understood to exist alone without requiring any other creature to exist. For example, a stone can exist all by itself. That is, its existence is not dependent upon the existence of minds or other bodies; and, a stone can exist without being any particular size or shape.
Mind—body dualism , in philosophy , any theory that mind and body are distinct kinds of substances or natures. This position implies that mind and body not only differ in meaning but refer to different kinds of entities. Thus, a dualist would oppose any theory that identifies mind with the brain , conceived as a physical mechanism. Matter, or extended substance, conforms to the laws of physics in mechanistic fashion, with the important exception of the human body , which Descartes believed is causally affected by the human mind and which causally produces certain mental events. For example, willing the arm to be raised causes it to be raised, whereas being hit by a hammer on the finger causes the mind to feel pain. This problem gave rise to other varieties of dualism, such as occasionalism and some forms of parallelism that do not require direct causal interaction.
The mind—body problem is an unsolved problem concerning the relationship between thought and consciousness in the human mind, and the brain as part of the physical body. It is distinct from the question of how mind and body function chemically and physiologically since that question presupposes an interactionist account of mind-body relations. A variety of approaches have been proposed. Most are either dualist or monist. Dualism maintains a rigid distinction between the realms of mind and matter.